Character is Forged in the Furnace of Affliction. Part 2
by Gilly Mathiesen
In part 1 we looked at the life of King David in relation to suffering as a result of going astray. What about Joseph? Why and how did he suffer?
We can all have a dream or vision from the Lord. Often there is a preparation period to go through before the fulfilment of that vision. God lays a foundation during that preparation period to ensure our character can bear the vision He has put in our hearts, when the time of fulfilment comes.
In Genesis 37, we meet a young Joseph, the favourite son of Jacob. Favouritism in a family will always bring trouble, but in Joseph’s case, it was double trouble. He also had been given several dreams from the Lord which, perhaps naively, he shared with the whole family - causing even more hatred and jealousy. The content of the dreams was the straw which would break the camel’s back, causing the hatching of an evil plan by his older brothers. The story of Joseph paints a picture of a seemingly spoiled young man, going around in his multi-coloured coat, basking in his father’s adulation and probably feeling more special and important than his other siblings. This does not sound like a man who would end up humbly leading the nation of Egypt, second only to Pharaoh by name.
We read later on in the story that the famine was widespread, with Egypt becoming the world supermarket at that time. Joseph was placed in charge of food supplies and much more, leading with integrity, God’s wisdom, insight and favour. What happened to that little spoiled boy to make him into a man who could bear such incredible responsibility? The vision for his call was already a seed in his heart as a young man, planted by God, and the dreams depicted what was to come. God had put a call to leadership in Joseph, and I reckon he knew, somehow, he’d be in a great position one day. What he didn’t know, though, as he paraded around with his multi-coloured coat on, was that his pride and self- importance would have to be placed on the altar, a death to self, as it were, if he could ever be a tool in the Lord’s hands.
Joseph had perhaps riled his siblings with a display of youthful arrogance, but the actions of his brothers were unjustifiable. Within a very short time, Joseph’s world crumbled all around him. Threatened with death by his brothers, thrown in a pit, sold to strangers and not knowing if he would ever see his family again, then taken to a strange land, sold as a slave to an Egyptian, and having to learn a whole new language and that was just the start of Joseph’s story! What a furnace of suffering he landed in! He ended up in prison, and it was here that something key took place in Joseph’s character, which got him ready for one of the most influential positions in the world at that time. We will look more at this in part 3.
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